Sepsis in LTC facilities

September 27, 2022

Governor Pete Ricketts has proclaimed September as Sepsis Awareness Month in the State of Nebraska. The proclamation, signed and sealed on August 19, 2022, has goals of raising sepsis awareness, the effects of sepsis on individuals and the costs associated, both monetarily and in long-term impairments in the quality of life in survivors of sepsis. Nebraska joins 33 other states in recognizing Sepsis Awareness month with this proclamation.

September is sepsis awareness month

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition which affects millions each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out the challenges sepsis creates for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities. Residents of LTCs often are at increased risk for developing sepsis due to underlying risk factors such as older age and/or chronic conditions.

Heather Jones, DNP, NP-C, is the CDC’s LTC expert at the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. Her Safe Healthcare Blog post “Protecting Long-Term Care Residents from Sepsis” describes the difficulties in identifying sepsis in the LTC setting due to normal physiological changes that occur as we age. Chronic conditions can also closely resemble the signs of sepsis and can increase the difficulty in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Health team members, fellow residents and the families of residents can be the first ones to notice subtle changes in a person that can be indicative of oncoming sepsis, such as a decrease in cognitive function, disorientation and reduced appetite. 

Recognizing a change in the resident and determining that this is an infection with the potential to result in sepsis is the first step to improving the outcome of the patient. Swift transport of the resident to a hospital setting and appropriate treatment, such as intravenous fluid introduction and the application of antimicrobial chemotherapy, can increase recovery odds.

For more information on Sepsis Awareness Month, visit the Sepsis Alliance website.

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